Commission of January 6 recommends filing charges against Trump

(CNN) — The commission of January 6 took advantage of its final public meeting this Monday to sum up his 17-month investigation with a simple closing statement: All roads lead to Donald Trump.

Members focused on how the former president’s direct involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election makes him responsible for the violence that unfolded at the US Capitol.

The commission made the case to both the public and the Justice Department that evidence exists to bring criminal charges against Trump in multiple criminal statutes, including obstructing an official proceeding, defrauding the United States, making false statements, and aiding or abetting to an insurrection.

The commission released an executive summary of its report on Monday and plans to release the full report on Wednesday, as well as transcripts of the commission’s interviews.

Here, the conclusions of the commission’s final public meeting:

Commission refers Trump to Justice Department

For months, the commission wavered on whether to refer Trump to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

The commission was not wrong this Monday.

The commission referred Trump to the Justice Department on at least four criminal charges and said in its executive summary that it had evidence of possible charges of conspiracy to injure or impede an agent and seditious conspiracy.

In practice, the reference is effectively a symbolic measure. It doesn’t require action by the Justice Department, and anyway, Attorney General Merrick Garland has already appointed special counsel, Jack Smith, to take over two Trump-related investigations, including the one on Jan. 6.

But the formal criminal references and the filing of his report this week underscore how much the January 6 commission unearthed and revealed Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 election in the run-up to January 6. Now the ball is in the Justice Department’s court.

Commission Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said he has “full confidence that the work of this commission will help provide a road map to justice, and that the agencies and institutions responsible for ensuring justice as will use the information provided to us to help in their work.”

Lawyer Discusses Whether They Could File Criminal Charges Against Trump 1:26

All roads lead to Trump

The commission members repeatedly pointed to Trump’s personal involvement in nearly every part of the broader plot to overturn the 2020 election and focused squarely on his role in the violence that broke out on January 6.

Monday’s presentation was a convincing close for the commission, which said Trump was seeking to break “the foundations of American democracy.”

“Donald Trump broke that faith. He lost the 2020 election and he knew it. But he chose to try to stay in office through a multi-party scheme to overturn the results and block the transfer of power,” Thompson said. “In the end, he summoned a mob to Washington and, knowing they were armed and angry, pointed them toward the Capitol and told them to ‘fight like hell.’ No doubt about it”.

Specifically, the panel said Trump “oversaw” the legally dubious effort to submit fake voter lists in seven states he lost, arguing that evidence shows he actively worked to “transmit fake Electoral College ballots to Congress and the National Archives” through despite concerns among his lawyers that doing so might be illegal.

The members stressed that Trump knew the election was not stolen, but continued to push unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud in an effort to overthrow Joe Biden’s legitimate victory.

Once again, the commission uses a video to illustrate its case against Trump

The commission once again relied on video, an effective and memorable tool the panel has used during its hearings featuring behind-closed-door witness testimony and harrowing scenes of the violent attack on the Capitol, to make its case against Trump.

Near the start of the hearing, the commission showed a video montage of more than 10 minutes laying out all of its allegations against Trump, from witnesses who said aides told Trump he lost the election because the former president failed to act on time. January 6 as violence unfolded at the Capitol.

The montage walked through Trump’s efforts to block his election defeat, showed how his attacks changed the lives of poll workers and played body camera footage of agents attacked by insurgents.

A bipartisan, if one-sided, effort

Analysis of the legal problems of former President Trump 7:25

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona — one of four subpoenaed Republican lawmakers referred by the panel to the House Ethics Committee on Monday — tweeted ahead of the hearing that the committee was a “partisan farce.” Rep. Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican who boycotted the commission, called it a “partisan witch hunt.”

But the panel is, in fact, bipartisan.

It’s important to remember how this all started. While there were partisan disputes over which Republicans would be allowed on the panel, House Democrats were willing to give committee seats to Republican lawmakers who literally voted to overturn the 2020 results. Republicans boycotted.

But two Republicans volunteered to join the panel: Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives at the time, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a six-term lawmaker who was a star in promotion in the party Both brought with them Republican Party staff members who worked for the commission.

To be sure, Cheney and Kinzinger are outliers at their conference because they are anti-Trump. And that’s the core of Trump’s criticism of the commission: that it’s full of his enemies. Still, even if they oppose Trump, Cheney and Kinzinger remain deeply conservative Republicans. Neither will return to Congress next year: Kinzinger will retire and Cheney lost his primary this summer.

During Monday’s hearing, Kinzinger described how his fellow House Republicans were complicit in Trump’s efforts to nullify the election. He highlighted evidence that Trump wanted senior Justice Department officials to “put up a veneer of legitimacy” on his voter fraud claims so that “Congressional Republicans…can distort, destroy, and cast doubt” on the results of the 2020 elections.

No matter what Trump and his allies say, Democrats will always be able to accurately state that the panel’s findings, conclusions, final report and criminal references are bipartisan.

Whats Next?

The end is near, at least for the commission.

Thompson said the commission’s full report will be released later this week. This will be a historical document that will be studied for generations. Never before has a sitting president tried to steal a second term.

Additional “transcripts and documents” will be released before the end of the year, Thompson said.

The sheer volume of this material cannot be overstated. The panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, likely generating tens of thousands of pages of transcripts. Many of these interviews were filmed, which means the panel has hundreds of hours of footage that it could release very soon.

These upcoming releases will feed Trump’s critics. But it will also meet a key demand from some of Trump’s allies: that the panel reveal the full context of their interviews. (Up to this point, the panel has been very selective about which bits of witness interviews were played at public hearings.)

The current Congress ends on January 3, 2023, and then the commission will cease to exist. But the Justice Department investigation, overseen by special counsel Smith, continues.

Of the nine members of the commission, four will not return to Congress. In addition to Cheney and Kinzinger, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida is retiring, while Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia was one of the few Democratic House incumbents to lose their seats in the 2022 midterm elections last month.

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